5 DAYS - 4 NIGHTS
Melbourne to Queenscliff
Distance: 107 kilometres
Drive the Princes Freeway through Geelong to the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula. Or cruise across the bay: either from Sorrento to Queenscliff with Searoad Ferries or from Docklands Melbourne to Portarlington with Port Phillip Ferries (passengers only). For whisky, wine and cider lovers discover local gems like Queenscliff Brewhouse, Jack Rabbit Vineyard, Leura Park Estate, Scotchmans Hill, Terindah Estate, Flying Brick Cider House and Oakdene Estate.
Dine with a difference: a 6-course degustation on The Q Train, Australia’s premier rail restaurant. Then settle into a villa or cabin at BIG4 Beacon Resort, just metres from the beach. If luxury is your thing, a night at Lon Retreat & Spa is a must.
Queenscliff to Great Ocean Road
O/night: Apollo Bay
Distance: 133 kilometres
Hit the road westward, calling in to explore Torquay’s Australian National Surfing Museum and meet Anglesea Golf Club’s resident kangaroos. Tour the incredible coast-clinging route from Lorne to Apollo Bay, stopping for Teddy’s Lookout views, or rainforest challenges at Live Wire Park.
Dine and stay overlooking mesmerising ocean views at Chris’s Restaurant, then Beacon Point Ocean View Villas or Best Western Apollo Bay Motel.
Great Ocean Road to Grampians
Depart: Apollo Bay
O/night: Halls Gap/Dunkeld/Hamilton
Distance: Approx 351 kilometres
Choose today’s adventure: hike a section of the Great Ocean Walk or follow the Great Ocean Road through the Great Otway National Park to the famous Twelve Apostles. Detour inland to sample local produce at Timboon Railway Shed Distillery, then back along the coast to Warrnambool for whale spotting (June-September).
Head north through fertile farmland to Dunkeld on the edge of the Grampians National Park. Unwind for the night in one of Royal Mail Hotel's refurbished hotel rooms.
Grampians to Ballarat
Depart: Halls Gap/Dunkeld /Hamilton
Distance: Approx 152 kilometres
Rise with the sun and explore ultra-scenic Grampians National Park by road or walking trail – wildlife, waterfalls and seasonal wildflowers abound. Learn about the ancient wisdom of the land at Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre, then head to Ballarat via Stawell, Ararat, stunning Australian bushland and serious wine country. Pause at boutique wineries for tastings and grazing platters, or push onto Sovereign Hill for an afternoon immersed in 1850s gold diggings life.
Make your overnight stay a foray into farm life with a Downunder Farmstays experience in the Goldfields region. Or splurge on an extraordinary dinner at The Gallery restaurant at Craig’s Royal Hotel.
Ballarat to Melbourne
Distance: 113 kilometres
Before you farewell the Goldfields region, join Gold & Relics Gold Prospecting Adventures for a half-day gold prospecting tour in the bush surrounding Ballarat. You never know what you might unearth.
Plug in for an iPod tour of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, a close-up animal encounter at Ballarat Wildlife Park or an encore visit to Sovereign Hill for more gold rush fun (and old-style bakery treats for lunch). Lydiard Street’s opulent architecture, the Ballarat Botanic Gardens and Creswick Woollen Mills are worth lingering.
Spa Country at Daylesford and Hepburn Springs will offer a great finale to your road trip, this region is famous for the healthgiving mineral spring waters that bubble naturally to the surface. Massages, beauty treatments and pampering are always on the agenda. Why not tap into local wellness with a mineral-based treatment at Peppers Mineral Springs Spa? For an authentic stay at one of Victoria’s famous regional retreats stay at Lake House and make the most of its lake side location and renowned restaurant.